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Financial and legislative motivations

There are numerous National and European policies which are working together to make landfill a more expensive and less attractive option for local authorities.

Landfill tax

Landfill Tax currently stands  at £84.40 per tonne.  It has increased by more than £60 per tonne over the last 10 years.

Landfill tax is a tax on the disposal of waste in landfill sites.  Introduced in 1996 (at a starting rate of £7 per tonne), the Landfill Tax aims to encourage waste producers and collectors (including local councils) to produce less waste, recover more value from waste and to use more environmentally friendly methods of waste disposal.  The tax now stands at £84.40 per tonne.

By making landfill a more expensive option, it encourages local councils to use more innovative and sustainable forms of waste treatment.  It has done its job and acted as a catalyst for significant investment in more sustainable waste treatment facilities, such as Energy Recovery.

The four Partner Boroughs currently spend millions of pounds every year in landfill taxes – but that will end once the new Beddington Energy Recovery Facility becomes operational in 2018, as it will divert 95% of the Partnership’s residual household waste away from landfill.

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The Landfill Directive

The Landfill Directive was adopted by the European Community in 1999 and came into force in England and Wales in 2002.

The Landfill Directive is designed to increase recycling and recovery and reduce potentially polluting emissions from landfill.  It achieves this by, among other things, setting demanding targets to reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste that is sent to landfill.

The targets set by the Landfill Directive for the UK as a whole are:

Both the 2010 and 2013 targets were achieved.  Work continues across the country to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste sent to landfill in order to meet the 2020 target.

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Waste Strategy for England and Waste Management Plan for England

The main focus of the Waste Strategy for England (2007) is to reduce the amount of waste that is generated by households in the first place.  It encourages local authorities to run waste awareness and minimisation campaigns to achieve this

The Waste Strategy for England also sets a household waste recycling and composting target of 50% by 2020 and supports the use of technologies that can recover energy from waste that cannot otherwise be recycled.

The Waste Strategy was superseded by the Waste Management Plan for England in 2013.  It did not introduce any new policies, but simply brought a number of separate Strategies under one umbrella.  So the target of achieving a recycling and composting rate of 50% across the country by 2020 remains.  There are concerns that target may be missed with recycling and composting rates across the country beginning to stagnate at an average of around 44%.

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Mayor of London’s Municipal Waste Management Strategy

On a more local level, the South London Waste Partnership also has targets set by the Mayor of London’s Municipal Waste Management Strategy, which outlines how the Capital is going to play its part in meeting the nation-wide targets set by the Waste Strategy for England.   This includes achieving a recycling and composting rate of 45% by 2015.

The Mayor of London’s Municipal Waste Management Strategy covers the period 2011 to 20131 and encompasses all municipal waste including commercial and industrial waste that is collected by local authorities as well as waste from parks and grounds maintenance.

In the Strategy, the Mayor of London calls for greater regional self-sufficiency, emphasising the need for more waste treatment and disposal facilities to be built in London.  It encouraged the recovery of energy from waste, and predicts that by 2013, 40 per cent of London’s municipal waste could be treated in a way that extracts energy from it.

Key targets include:

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